Deadly Strangers

Deadly Strangers is a 1975 British psychological thriller film directed by Sidney Hayers and starring Hayley Mills, Simon Ward and Sterling Hayden.[1][2]

Deadly Strangers
British theatrical poster
Directed bySidney Hayers
Produced byPeter Miller
Written byPhilip Levene (original Story and Screenplay)
StarringHayley Mills
Simon Ward
Sterling Hayden
Music byRon Goodwin
CinematographyGraham Edgar
Edited byBarry Peters
Production
company
Distributed byFox-Rank (UK)
Release date
April 1975 (UK)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Plot

An unseen dangerous patient escapes Greenwood Mental Hospital killing or injuring two staff. Immediately afterwards a car is stolen and the owner killed by the thief.

The next day Stephen Slade (Simon Ward) notices a pretty girl Belle Adams (Hayley Mills) in a pub, and when she is given a lift by a lorry driver, he follows her in his own car, which is the same color and make (an Austin Maxi} as seen in the earlier murder scene. The lorry driver attempts to rape the girl but she escapes and is rescued by Stephen.

Belle wishes to catch a train at a nearby station and Stephen drives her there; but on arrival he untruthfully claims her train is not running and offers to drive her to her destination instead.

With Stephen not being too forthcoming on his own background, the trip focuses on what they are both hiding. Flashbacks gradually reveal that Stephen is a voyeur deeply into sexual perversions, and that Belle is an orphan who was a victim of sexual abuse on the part of her uncle. At an isolated petrol station manned only by one young woman, Stephen fills up his tank, disappears for a while in the petrol station ostensibly to make a telephone call, and then rejoins Belle in the car, and they drive off. The next scene shows the petrol station attendant murdered.

On the road, Stephen and Belle are keen to avoid police checks and roadblocks, at first because Stehen was drinking alcohol, and then because the couple are harassed by two young motorcyclists and Stephen knocks one of them into the roadside where he lies motionless, presumably injured or dead. To avoid detection Stephen and Belle sleep in the car. On waking the next morning, Stephen notices Belle has disappeared and drives off to find her, assuming disloyalty. She however has simply been shopping for breakfast and so is obliged to catch a lift from aging Malcolm Robarts (Sterling Hayden). Before long Stephen reunites with Belle, leaving Robarts alone. Upon seeing a newspaper headline, Robarts tries to chase them but loses them.

The film culminates with the couple spending the night at a hotel. A flashback reveals the truth: after sexual abuse by her uncle during her orphaned chldhood, Belle snapped and murdered her uncle, which resulted in her confinement in Greenwood Mental Hospital. Now, Belle is finally arrested by the police, but not before she murders Stephen. The title is explained: they were both deadly strangers.

Cast

  • Belle Adams - Hayley Mills
  • Stephen Slade - Simon Ward
  • Malcolm Robarts - Sterling Hayden
  • Jim Nicholls - Ken Hutchison
  • Belle's Uncle - Peter Jeffrey
  • CafĂ© Owner - Hubert Tucker
  • Petrol Station Attendant - Nina Francis
  • 1st Motorcycle Youth - George Collis
  • 2nd Motorcycle Youth - Ralph Arliss
  • Stephen's Girlfriend - Juliet Aykroyd
  • Motorcycle Policeman - Roger Nott
  • Hotel Receptionist - Norman Tyrrell

Critical reception

Time Out noted "old-fashioned psychopathic goings-on in the West Country" and its "sole redeeming feature is Hayley Mills, who suggests an actress capable of much better things than she has been offered recently. Hayers, to his credit, does exploit her best quality - an insolent, slightly offhand sex appeal" ;[3] while TV Guide found it an "occasionally intriguing tale," concluding that it was "well done, but it seems to bog down in its own cleverness";[4] whereas The Terror Trap found it "a satisfying and well made British psycho thriller." [5]

References

  1. "Deadly Strangers". BFI.
  2. DEADLY STRANGERS Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 42, Iss. 492, (Jan 1, 1975): 102.
  3. "Deadly Strangers". Time Out London.
  4. "Deadly Strangers". TV Guide.
  5. "Deadly Strangers (1974) - The Terror Trap". terrortrap.com.
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